Come, “Will,” let’s be good friends again,
Our wrongs let’s be forgetting,
For words bring only useless pain,
So wherefore then be fretting.
Let’s lay aside imagined wrongs,
And ne’er give way to grieving,
Life should be filled with joyous songs,
No time left for deceiving.
I’ll try and not give way to wrath,
Nor be so often crying;
There must some thorns be in our path,
Let’s move them now by trying.
How, like a foolish pair were we,
To fume about a letter;
Time is so precious, you and me;
Must spend ours doing better.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on September 6, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
Black brother, think you life so sweet
That you would live at any price?
Does mere existence balance with
The weight of your great sacrifice?
Or can it be you fear the grave
Enough to live and die a slave?
O Brother! be it better said,
When you are gone and tears are shed,
That your death was the stepping stone
Your children’s children cross’d upon.
Men have died that men might live:
Look every foeman in the eye!
If necessary, your life give
For something, ere in vain you die.
From The Book of American Negro Poetry (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922) edited by James Weldon Johnson. This poem is in the public domain.
one year, i carried the blues around
like a baby. sure, my coffee mugs cupped
amethysts :: water gushed, rose-tinted
and -scented, from the faucets at my touch ::
the air orange with butterflies that never
left me. meanwhile, indigo held fast
to my toes :: lapis lapped my fingertips ::
and a hue the shade of mermaid scales
bolted through my hair like lightning.
my eyelids drooped, fell, heavy with sky.
that year i carried the blues around
left me mean :: while indigo held fast,
the daily news tattooed azure to my back.
true, festivals of lilies buoyed me. but what
good could white do? the blues grow like
shadows in late sun :: stretch creep run.
Copyright © 2019 by Evie Shockley. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 12, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
Translated from Portuguese by John Keene I won’t wash the dishes anymore Or dust the furniture I’m sorry I’ve begun to read The other day I opened a book and a week later I decided I won’t carry the trash out to the trash bin Or clean up the mess of leaves falling in the yard I’m sorry After reading I noticed each dish has its own aesthetic, an aesthetic of traces, of ethics, of static I look at my hands as they flip the books’ pages Hands much softer than they were before I feel that I can start to be all the time I feel. If something happens I am not going to wash anymore. Nor bring your rugs in for dry cleaning My eyes grow teary I’m sorry Now that I’ve begun to read I want to understand, why, why? And why things exist I read and I read and I read I even smiled And left the beans to burn. . . See, the beans always take time to cook Let’s just say things are different now. . . . Ah, I forgot to say I won’t do it any more I‘ve resolved to have some time for myself I’ve resolved to read about what's going on between us Don’t wait for me Don’t call for me I won’t be going From everything I’ve ever read, from everything I understand It was you who went Went too far, for too long, past the alphabet It had to be spelled out for you I won’t wash things to cover up the true filth Or dust things clean and scatter the dust from here to there and from there to here I’ll disinfect my hands and avoid your moving parts I won’t touch alcohol After so many years literate I’ve learned to read After so much time together I’ve learned to make a break My sneaker from your shoe My drawer from your ties My perfume from your scent My canvas from your frame That’s how it is, I’m not washing a thing anymore And I stare at the filth at the bottom of the glass The moment always arrives of shaking things up, of moving forward, of making sense of things I do not wash dishes anymore I read the signature on my Emancipation Proclamation in black capital letters, size 18, double-spaced I set myself free I do not wash dishes anymore I want silver platters Deluxe kitchens And gold jewelry The real kind So is the Emancipation Proclamation decreed
Originally published in the December 2018 issue of Words Without Borders. © Cristiane Sobral. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2018 by John Keene. All rights reserved.
O, come, Love, let us take a walk,
Down the Way-of-Life together;
Storms may come, but what care we,
If be fair or foul the weather.
When the sky overhead is blue,
Balmy, scented winds will after
Us, adown the valley blow
Haunting echoes of our laughter.
When Life’s storms upon us beat
Crushing us with fury, after
All is done, there’ll ringing come
Mocking echoes of our laughter.
So we’ll walk the Way-of-Life,
You and I, Love, both together,
Storm or sunshine, happy we
If be foul or fair the weather.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 15, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.